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Packaging makes up between a quarter and a third of all domestic waste. One of the main issues at hand is the desire to promote brands for profit, which often leads to exorbitant amounts of unnecessary materials being used in order to make a product more appealing.

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What the human really needs, or what the environment requires, isn’t taken into consideration. Minimalism is not a word easily thrown around in the world of brand packaging.

As a means for creating more mindful packaging, however, Nike has partnered with Taiwanese architect and engineer Arthur Huang to create shoe boxes made from recycled drink containers and lids in order to create “sustainable and responsible” packaging that aligns with the growing public desire to do better.

Nike released the lightweight shoebox design for the brand’s annual Air Max Day. The packaging can only be used for the Air Max Royal 01, designed by Huang as well. The shoes are also made from recycled materials, and are boasted as being the lightest Air Max 1 ever. The sneakers are encased in Nike’s Flyknit fabric, which the company stitches together using a seamless technique said to generate 60% less waste than conventional cut-and-sew methods.

The shoebox design, which uses plastics from leftover consumer packaging, requires no added chemicals in the manufacturing process.

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“It cushions while at the same time reducing material usage,” said Huang, the CEO of Taiwan and Berlin-based Miniwiz — a studio that finds new uses for waste. “In this case, we’re adding features and efficiency to an existing product and by re-using non-virgin materials in a sustainable and responsible way.” Miniwiz was set up in 2005 by Huang and fellow structural engineer Jarvis Liu as a way to show how post-consumer waste could be reinvented as the next generation of products.

The finished shoebox product is made to neatly interlock for stacking or display. The top of the box splits diagonally in half, and a central section keeps the shoes in place. Extra holes in the packaging allow consumers to thread rope through and re-use the box as a backpack or carry bag. If users don’t want to do that, they can also recycle the packaging.

“These are all intentional features and qualities which revolve around the intent of every Miniwiz product—reducing the impact on the environment in every way it can,” Huang said.

“What we do here is very simple, we try to use the stuff we throw away and turn that into the most sustainable way with the least carbon footprint to create a new product. . . . It’s all about turning pollution into a solution for the future.”

Miniwiz previously teamed up with Nike to create an installation that used Flyknit material to create brightly-coloured web in a rusting gas tower. The company also created a hand-cranked power generator made from re-purposed electronic waste plastic and paper, and a brick made from recycled plastic bottles. The generator serves to build fences and roofs.

Seeing major fashion brands team up with companies created for the sole purpose to give back to the Earth offers hope to the sustainability movement, and should inspire other well-known brands to rethink their impact on our planet, too.

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